Trek 1 FAQ's

1. What time do we need to arrive to the Wingate Hotel in Lafayette on our Arrival Day?
Trek Crews need to arrive at 2:00 pm to begin their program. Your Trek Guide will be there to greet you and accompany you through the process.

2. What are the trek start dates Trek 1?
Two treks start daily from June 6th to July 23rd.

3. What does our trek crew # mean?
The first six numbers of your trek crew number are the date that your crew is supposed to arrive in Lafayette for your trek. It is an YYMMDD format. Following the date is "01," representing Trek 1 or "02," representing Trek 2, and then either "A, B, or P." "A and B" are determined by the order in which the crew has reserved their trek, whereas "P" represents the provisional crew. Lastly, the "ST" stands for Swamp Trek.

4. What day are we supposed to arrive?
Please reference your trek crew number. The date of your arrival is the first six digits of your trek crew number, YYMMDD. Please arrive at 2:00 pm on this date.

5. When does the Swamp Base program officially end?
The program officially ends after dinner after returning to Lafayette. This is approximately 7:30 pm.

6. What time are we allowed to checkout on our final day?
The Wingate Hotel requests that all crews checkout of the dorms and return their keys no later than 9:00 am. Nothing is required in the checkout procedure except returning the keys to the drop box. Please note that crews are allowed to depart earlier if they so choose.

7. Do the crews receive their BSA Health Forms at the conclusion of their trek?
No. Due to HIPAA laws, Swamp Base destroys all medical forms at the completion of the crew’s trek. Swamp Base requires that all crews provide copies of the original health forms.

8. What date does the Provisional trek start, and what is a provisional crew?
Trek 1's provisional trek’s arrival day is annually on June 18th. Its crew number is YY0618-01P-ST. A provisional crew is made up of separate individuals from across the country that are placed together as a crew. These “strangers” participate as regular crew. Every adult in the provisional crew must have Youth Protection training, as well as certifications in First-Aid and CPR, Weather Hazards, Safety Afloat, and Safe Swim Defense.

9. Number and size of portages?
There are two portages during the 61.6-mile trek. The canoes and paddling gear must be carried 900 ft. at the Henderson Portage and 800 ft. at the Swamp Stomp Portage. Both portages include crossing a 25 ft. high levee, the highest point in the swamp! The Swamp Stomp includes a 300’ section of muddy trail that can be difficult for some participants. It is important to wear shoes with strong soles and that lace up tightly. The mud at the portage will “eat” your shoes!

10. Do the canoes provided have backrests?
They do not. If you require a backrest for your trek, please consider bringing one with you.

11. What are kayak paddles used with the canoes versus traditional canoe paddles?
Many people don’t realize how comfortable and efficient it is to use a kayak paddle with a canoe. When using a kayak paddle there are no wet laps from switching sides or having to use a J-stroke, it’s easier to turn the boat, correct your direction, stop, and accelerate. It also allows for inexperienced paddles to gain confidence and paddle more efficiently.

We won’t prevent you from bringing your own canoe paddle, but we think you will see how enjoyable it is to paddle a canoe with a kayak paddle.

12. Can I bring my own kayak, canoe, paddle, or PFD?
Swamp Base only allows for participants to furnish their own paddle if they see it as necessary. The paddling gear used on our high adventure treks is top of the line equipment, and due to space and liability reasons, we cannot allow individuals to bring their own boats or personal floatation devices.

14. Why do we need to bring four separate water bottles versus one-gallon jug?
We recommend multiple water bottles so that in case of capsized canoe or spillage, that not all of the water is lost. This method ensures that everyone always has a container to hold water. Additionally, it is less cumbersome to carry one 32oz. bottle around our program areas and campsites, then to have to drag a gallon container.

15. Why do we need to bring two 20L dry bags?
Dry bags are the preferred method of carrying gear in the swamp, because they keep personal gear dry. Please do not bring backpacks or duffel bags in the swamp. We recommend using two dry bags versus one larger bag for a couple reasons: 1) Having two bags provides for better organization of gear while on the water. One bag can serve as the overnight container and the other for paddling. Additionally, it makes getting to items much easier without having to unpack and repack dry bags at every need. 2) In the event that a canoe capsizes and a bag is not properly secured, only half of the person's items will be lost or wet, as opposed to all of their items.

16. How dangerous are alligators?
Most alligators, if left alone, will move on. Alligators less than 4 feet in length are naturally fearful of humans and are generally not a threat to pets, livestock, or humans.
Although alligator attacks in Louisiana are rare, they can happen. The "attack" reports in Louisiana are usually more accurately described as "encounters." As with all outdoor activities, realize that wildlife encounters are a possibility.

17. How buggy is the swamp?
Mosquitoes in the Atchafalaya Swamp are no worse than other wilderness/recreation areas. The added benefit of Swamp Base is that most of the programs happen on the water, where mosquitoes rarely congregate. When in a wooded environment, Swamp Base has planned activities and campsite locations so that mosquitoes rarely become an issue. One misconception about mosquitoes found in the swamp is that they carry diseases. In fact, entomologists have determined that disease carrying mosquitoes (West Nile) are almost non-existent in the Atchafalaya.

18. Do participants paddle with food?
Trek 1 - Yes. 6 of the 16 included meals are to be eaten while on the water.

Crews are encouraged to bring their own “Snack Packs” if they have above average appetites. Swamp Base provides food for “normal consumption” (see “Paddling Gear”).

19. What do I do if I need to use the bathroom while on the trail?
If no land is around, you jump in the water of course! Your trek guide will teach you the proper way of relieving yourself in the swamp. 

20. What happens if I forget something I need for the Trek?
Not to worry! The Evangeline Area Council, BSA has a Scout Shop that sells most of what crews will need on the trek. There is also an Academy Sports + Outdoor store and Walmart in the area.

21. Approximately how many paddle strokes will it take to complete Trek 1?
We have estimated the amount of paddle strokes to be around 31,000.

22. How hot is it in the summer in South Louisiana?
June/July high temperatures average in the low 90s Fahrenheit with average humidity levels at 78%.

23. When are payments and the final roster due for 2019 treks?
The 1st Payment is due on October 3, 2018. This payment is $2,500 per trek crew and is non-refundable. The Final Payment is due on March 1, 2019. The remaining balance and final roster is due on this day. The balance paid is non-refundable. Note: The Final Roster will determine the remaining balance owed. Please note: If your crew signs up after the October 3rd payment date, we will work with your crew on a payment plan.

24. What certifications are required?
All registered adults must have completed the BSA Youth Protection Training or Venturing Youth Protection Training. At least one adult must be trained in First Aid and CPR from any recognized agency and also in Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, and Weather Hazards.

25. Can I use my CPAP machine?
For Trek 1, the only night with no electricity is Rougarou Island, the 2nd night in the swamp. All other nights will have 110-volt power plugs. Unfortunately, due to a completely primitive experience, there is no electricity for Trek 2.

26. What do I do with my dorm room key?
PLEASE RETURN THE DORM ROOM KEY TO YOUR TREK GUIDE! The price of a lost/unreturned key is $200 (This is the amount that the university charges for all lost dorm room keys, as several locks have to be replaced when a key is lost or unreturned).

27. Can I or should I bring my Smartphone on the trek?
Yes, it is encouraged to bring your Smartphone on the trek to document your experience through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Please understand that Youth Protection Guidelines for using phones applies in all instances, whether images plan to be uploaded to the internet or not.

When uploading images, please use #swampbase for all posted photos/videos from the trek. Please note that Swamp Base may “share” these photos or videos on its Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. It is also possible that at the end of the summer, Swamp Base may use these photos for future high adventure marketing videos or brochures.

28. The trek gear includes water shoes.  Would you please explain the "definition" of water shoes?
First, water shoes are not boots. Please do not bring boots to paddle with, as they are much too bulky. Water shoes are shoes intended to get wet and drain. There two types: flimsy off brand ones used for the beach and others like made by Keens that have a stronger sole. Either way, please bring a pair of athletic shoes for walking around the islands.

29. The gear also includes tennis shoes or boots. Will closed toed water shoes (for example, Keens) suffice, or do they need to be completely enclosed?
Having a pair of completely enclosed tennis shoes is highly recommended, so as to allow your feet to dry. Fully enclosed shoes are also important to wear when you are in the woods in case of poison ivy.

30. Are we required to bring our own water purification medium (filters and/or chemical purification agents)?
Nope! We provide all the fresh water. One gallon is provided each morning for the day’s paddle. Additional water is available at each of the overnight locations. Trek 2 participants will filter their water using Swamp Base's water purifiers.

31. Can the birth certificate be a copy, or do you require the original at check-in?
Please provide a copy only.

32. What do crews flying to Swamp Base do with their luggage?
For flying crews’, Swamp Base provides storage for your luggage while you’re in the swamp. Please take out all trek related gear from the suitcases, and load both your trek gear and your empty luggage on to the Swamp Base trailer in the morning when the crew departs for the trailhead. Please don't leave anything at the hotel. When the trailer returns to Lafayette after dropping the crew off, we will unload the luggage and place your gear in our locked building. When the crew passes by the Swamp Base office at the conclusion of the trek, we will return the empty luggage to you.

33. Do you require and/or recommend treating trek clothing with a bug repellent?
We definitely don’t require it. We leave it up to the individual. If you do treat your clothes, we recommend applying Permithrin to your clothing prior to your arrival. Please follow the application directions. Some people can be allergic, and it can be harmful to pets.

34. Will we be assigned a Trek Guide for part of or the entire trek?
A Trek Guide will be with you for the duration of your journey, and we annually have a great group of guides that are passionate about Louisiana and the swamp!

35. When can we buy Swamp Base merchandise?
Swamp Base merchandise can be purchased at the end of the trek on Day 6, prior to returning to the university. Please bring your money with you on the water so that you have funds available when you get to the Evangeline Area Council’s Scout Shop. Swamp Base offers Nalgene® bottles, shirts, stickers, belts and buckles, snacks, and many other cool items!

© 2023 Louisiana Swamp Base